Public Service Announcement: T-minus 75 days remaining this year. Terrifying.
Earlier this year, I wrote about the first half of Showbread’s 2008 double-album Anorexia Nervosa. To recap: after the releases of the critically acclaimed No Sir, Nihilism is Not Practical, expectations grew high for follow-up Age of Reptiles. The album took the wind out of the sails of the group’s fanbase en masse, Tooth & Nail became concerned, issues arose with the label, yadda yadda – to expedite the process of fulfilling their remaining album obligations to T&N, the band decided to release a double album.
The concept of the record is as complicated as the diseases that comprise album’s title. Basically, twin sisters take divergent paths to what each believes is life’s fulfillment. Since I’m lounging on a couch 900+ miles away from home where my Anorexia and Nervosa CDs are stored, I can’t shed any light of the specifics or details, but what it comes down to is this: the music is inseparable from its literal counterpart.
Consider the track titles alone: twice, back-to-back songs (“The Dirt” and “The End”) share the same name. Neither of these instances make sense without the aid of the booklet that is included with each disc, which contains the full short story of Anorexia and her sister, Nervosa.
For me, Nervosa is the better half. Far more abrasive, gritty and dark, it embraces the aesthetic of an the endless sewer drip – it goes to the dingy places, the seedy underworlds. It has more characteristics of No Sir than Age of Reptiles ever could have.
Over the course of this side’s 12 tracks, Josh Dies and company make frequent use of terrifying audio samples: pigs squealing, chains, distant shrieking. You name the cliched horror movie drop, and it’s probably in here. But unlike many of its fright fest brethren, within the context of Nervosa’s delicate narrative, the clips work.
Highlights of this half of the story include, amongst others, searing opener “The Journey” and the beast itself, “The Goat,” which contains one of the best breakdowns in all of the band’s discography.
Elsewhere, “The Death” is one of the group’s most experimental tracks, employing a host of electric drums (in addition to the organic sound). It’s the closest they’ll ever get to sounding like Downward Spiral-era Nine Inch Nails.
This may just be my favorite overall Showbread record.
From Nervosa, (please pardon the cheesy fan-made video) this is “The Pig” –
Standout tracks: “The Journey,” “The Dirt” (#4), “The Goat,” “The End”
Weakest track: “The Dirt” (#5) or “The Beginning” because I just can’t get down with that sound anymore. It’s so hokey to me now.
RIYL: Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy. Raw rock, industrial, gritty punk rock.